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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 26, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am EDT

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tonight on "nightline," a powerful hurricane, with tens of millions of americans in its cross hairs. poised to explode into a superstorm that will pummel the east coast. we're on the ground with the latest. plus, it's a place where outsiders are rarely allowed. a journey inside the new ku klux klan, where we witness the secret rituals you may have thought were a thing of the past. the crosses, the fire. and, the chilling message. from the young men and women beneath those notorious hoods. it's a race war you're talking about. >> very much so. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city,
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this is "nightline," october 26th, 2012. >> good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. tonight, millions of americans are bracing for impact, as hurricane sandy rapidly approaches, threatening to morph into a rare superstorm as it barrels up the east coast. abc's ginger zee of our extreme weather team is on the ground in florida with the latest. >> reporter: as hurricane sandy rumbles through the atlantic, just a few hundred miles from the east coast, its path of destruction has already killed at least 30 people across the caribbean. from space, you can clearly see the size of this thing. it has tropical storm force winds extending almost 300 miles. it's shield of clouds stretching almost 2,000 miles. the storm is far enough away that florida will escape the brunt of the danger, but what we
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can't escape is beach erosion. the search punding up and over. this should not be happening right here. the beach usually starts about 50 yards out. through the weekend, sandy will snake around the coast, lashing the carolinas with its western-most tentacles before making its dirty turn directly toward the u.s. somewhere from the mid-atlantic to new england. >> when you factor in the unusual track that it's going to be taking, that is coming in from the east, across the jersey coast, it's a once in a lifetime storm. arer the >> reporter: the so-called once in a lifetime storm will only get worse as it moves towards land. monday, it will collide with energy that will pull in some cold air from the northwest. now, adding to that perfect storm scenario, there's what we call a blocking pattern that shoves energy from the north back at the storm and back toward the united states. here's what all of that means to you. the storm will carry hurricane-force winds, up to a foot of rain and the potential
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storm surge that could top out at ten feet. extreme conditions could begin as early as sunday and last for days, drenching the most populated part of the country. >> this storm, that is going to be impacting the mid-atlantic and parts of the northeast monday into tuesday is going to be destructive, historic and, unfortunately, life threatening. >> reporter: a state of emergency has already been declared in maryland, d.c., pennsylvania, new york and virginia. the biggest fear? the storm surge. in places like atlantic city, it could get even worse because of a full moon and higher tides. people are batoning down the hatches, preparing for the worst, up and down the eastern seaboard. in norfolk, the navy ordered 23 ships to leave port immediately. on the jersey shore, people are stocking up on essentials, including those generators. and in new york city, major bloomberg warned he may have to shut down the subway because it might flood.
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>> there is a possibility that the mta would have to stop serving, remove their buses and trains. >> reporter: the storm is also wreaking havoc on the presidential race, with the candidates already beginning to cancel events. it has all the makings of a nightmare before halloween. for "nightline," i'm ginger zee in cocoa beach, florida. >> our thanks to ginger zee. "gma" will have the latest in the morning. but now, we turn to our special report, a rare look inside the secret world of the kkk. for those of you who think burning crosses and hooded rallies are relative of the civil rights era, think again. hate groups in america have doubled in the past decade and it may surprise you who is among their ranks and what their agenda is. inside the new kkk. >> forward, march. >> reporter: in a forest grove not far from the nation's capital --
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>> for god. >> for god. >> for country. >> for country. >> reporter: a group of men and women gather. >> for race. >> for race. >> for klan. >> for klan. >> reporter: and the lights fade, they enact a ritual over a century old, but is fresh and searing as the flame they ignite. >> klansmen, the fiery cross. >> reporter: a cross on fire. they. >> reporter: known as the invisible empire for a reason. they thrive in secrecy, almost never permitting outsiders access. who are they? >> i could be your neighborhood. you don't know who i am. you could think the world of me, but yet if you see me in this hood, your thoughts could change. >> i been a fireman. i've been in the navy. >> reporter:people wearing these robes walk among us. >> if you want to be in the klan, fight for the klan. i fight for it seven days a week. >> reporter: witness the ku klux klan this summer -- >> white power. >> reporter: in martinsville,
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virginia. >> white power! >> reporter: and in tupelo, mississippi, a couple of weeks ago, a similar scene. >> white power! >> reporter: over the past four months, "nightline" has been granted rare access to the resurgent klan. their rituals, their people, their message of racial segregation. >> we do not protect our race and protect our people, they gonna destroy it. they gonna kill us. >> reporter: to get to the heart of it, we headed south to meet the grand dragon of the mississippi white knights of the kkk. made infamous in the film "mississippi burning." >> you already been told once. >> reporter: it's impossible not to think what once happened here. the territory scarred by the battles of the civil rights era. >> a klan bomb ripped apart birmingham's 16th street baptist church, killing four children attending bible class. >> reporter: so, we're in birmingham, alabama. and just down here is the jail
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where martin luther king jr. wrote the famous letter from a birmingham jail. along the way, we make a stop at the southern poverty law center, where mark potok and his colleagues have been fighting the kkk in courtrooms and classrooms for decades. many of the klanspeople we've talked to say barack obama has been our single most effective recruiting tool in the last four, five years. >> well, i think there's some truth to that. immediately after obama was elected, we saw two of the largest hate websites in the country crash. >> reporter: potok told us that by the late '80s, the klan dwindled to a few hundred. they now number closer to 6,000. >> white power! >> reporter: he believes they can be very dangerous. >> it's dangerous, not so much because a whole bunch of klansmen get together in a room and plan to murder 1,000 people with a bomb so, you know, it's
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the lone wolf characters that get frustrated with their leaders that break away, you know, one day, walk out of their house and start shooting. >> reporter: with that in mind, at a gas station outside of tupelo, the grand dragon appears. he is also known as steven howard, 31 years old, he says he's an iraq war veteran. he comes with a loaded pistol on his hip and tells me he's got serious ptsd. we agree to follow him to a remote location, where cell phone service is spotty. next to a trailer by the woods. they ask us not to photograph howard's 11-year-old daughter, but she is there, as is his wifenicole, presiding over the food. between eating and target practice -- >> i hit it that time. >> reporter: there's work to be done. howard and his klan brothers are preparing this 16-foot cross -- >> this is just -- we use the torches for the cross lighting itself. you have to wrap them and you have to put wire around them.
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>> klansmen, behold the fiery cross. >> reporter: when we come back, the burning cross that's terrorized people for generations. and the frightening message the klan is sending in the era of a black president. >> barack obama don't care about us. he don't care about america. ♪ [ male announcer ] this is karen and jeremiah. they don't know it yet, but they're gonna fall in love, get married, have a couple of kids, [ children laughing ] move to the country, and live a long, happy life together where they almost never fight about money. [ dog barks ] because right after they get married, they'll find some retirement people who are paid on salary, not commission. they'll get straightforward guidance and be able to focus on other things, like each other, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade.
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the air reeks of kerosene. we're at a kkk rally in the heart of mississippi. a countryside still haunted by memories of lynchings and church
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bombing from decades ago. pastor wallace hartsfield remembers those days only too well. he witnessed a black man dragged through the streets. >> they shot the man and they hanged him and then used his body for target practice, to teach black folk a lesson. >> we're going to need some help. >> reporter: but this is not the distant past. this is just last month in a secluded property in the woods, where people have come to join the grand dragon stephen howard, for what they call a cross lighting. >> america is in turmoil and we're lighting crosses to let people know that america is in turmoil right now. >> reporter: this klansman, who asked we not show his face for fear he'd be fired from his job, starts to get ready for the evening's rituals. you are wearing the robes of traditional terrorists, of traditional haters -- >> that's just the outlook that they want to give you. that ain't true. not everybody is like that. >> reporter: so, you think this is what a good christian man does?
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>> yeah. this is our christianity. that's just plain and simple. >> reporter: howard says he's allowed us to come here to show us the new klan is neither hate-filled nor violent. yet, what we heard and saw during our time with them suggests otherwise. >> black people and white people are nowhere related. in my opinion, i think black people evolved from animals, i believe that we need to be separated. whites and blacks need to be separated. i don't agree with race mixing. let them set up their own state. where they belong. and give them their own homeland. >> reporter: and if you daughter came home, said, i want to go out with a black boy. >> i'd disown her. >> reporter: because of who she loves? >> it's not love. if you love, you love somebody of your own race. >> reporter: who decreed that? >> god decreed that. jesus degrcreed that. >> reporter: i thought jesus said love each other. >> love your neighbor. >> reporter: as yourself. there's an argument to be made
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that by our covering the ku klux klan, we play into their hand, we help them recruit. what do you make of that? >> every time there's a story in the front page of a local newspaper about a klan rally, something of those lines, the klan or that particular group does get a member or two. but on the other hand, 99% people are essentially inoculated against them. it harms them more than help. >> reporter: back in mississippi, steve and his wife nicole tell us something stunning about steve's 11-year-old daughter, who is here for all of the night's proceedings. your 11-year-old daughter has a robe? >> yeah. she has her own robe. >> reporter: since she was 8 -- >> she wanted it. >> reporter: you think at 11 she can understand? >> i think she understands. >> she has a beautiful robe. >> she wants to be like her daddy. >> first time i've actually robed up, so, it a little bit big on me. >> reporter: now it's time for all members of the group to robe up.
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>> where you at, mom? >> i'm right here, son. >> reporter: i've read in the literature that there are some people that if barack obama is re-elected, the storm is going to come. what is the storm? >> i fear it. we are -- he's going to start it. he's going to start it. i fear it. i feel it, i feel it coming on and it ain't just me. it is -- -- it's going to be another war in this united states of america if he gets elected back to office. it's going to happen. if he gets four more years, brk b barack obama will ruin this country and white people will be in concentration camps. if you don't believe that, people sadly mistaken. >> reporter: and his collusion to avoid this supposed impending storm is an all-white south. where all blacks, hispanics and jews are banned. given some place else, he says, to live in america. i want to make sure i understand you. if the goal is white accept
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aretism, separating the races, the only way to separate the races is using violence. you're not going to be able to just say nicely, please leave. >> if they will peacefully go, then yeah. but if they won't, that's the only way is through violence, is through making them go, that's it. >> reporter: and you'd be willing to be apart of that? it's a race war you're talking about, essentially. >> very much so. >> reporter: his hero and predecessor was a convicted murderer. and former head of the mississippi white knights. what do you think about sam bowers? >> greatest klansman that ever lived. >> reporter: well, he was accused and convicted of murder. >> i don't endorse murder. >> reporter: what about other forms of violence? >> i don't endorse murder. >> reporter: i guess that means that other forms of violence may be okay. >> you have to foform your on opinion on that. >> reporter: these words seem particularly ominous as the members line up, preparing to head into the woods to enact a
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a west virginia casino launching the biggest ad barrage ever. don't be misled. the washington post says question seven is just... common sense. it'll create 4,000 permanent jobs. and stop maryland from losing millions to other states... every year.
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that's why business, labor, and teachers all support... question seveven. and so does te washington post. vote for question seven. it's just common sense. what will the next four years be like? one: the debt will gro from $16 trillion to $20 trillion. two: 20 million americans could lose their employer-based health care. three: taxes on the middle class will go up by $4,000. four: energy prices will continue to go up. and five: $716 billion in medicare cuts that hurt current seniors. five reasons we can't afford four more years of barack obama. i'm mitt romney and i approve this message.
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klansman, do you accept the light? >> reporter: the grand dragon steven howard leads his fellow klansmen in that notorious ceremony. >> do you accept the light? >> i accept this light. >> reporter: it is legal, done here in the woods on private property. it is ten years in federal prison if done on a black
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family's lawn to intimidate them. >> klansman, for mississippi. >> for mississippi! >> klansmen, for america. >> for america! >> klansmen, behold the fiery cross, still brilliant, all the troubled history failed to quench its flame. let me say that the cross is an inspiration, a sign of the christian religion, a symbol of faith, hope and love. we do not burn but light the cross to signify that christ is the light of the world. white power. >> white power! >> white power! >> reporter: as the fiery cross is reduced to a few sparking embers, the members leave the clearing and head back to the trailer. i want to ask you one other thing about the gun. you have it with you all the time? >> everywhere i go. concealed weapon. u.s. government gave me that.
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lost a lot of good friends of mine fighting for this country for nothing. for nothing. all because of the u.s. government. >> reporter: you're mad at the government. >> very mad at the government. yeah, i got a lot of hate in me. i got a lot of built up anger, a lot of hurt. a lot of hurt. >> reporter: pastor hartsfield knows all about hurt. >> it hurts deeply and i struggled for a long time not to hate those people that did that. good will overcome evil. right will overcome wrong. >> reporter: on this night, you can only hope the pastor's right. indeed. thanks for watching abc news. "good morning america" will be waiting for you in the morning with the latest on hurricane sandy. we're always online at have a safe weekend, america. jimmy kimmel, right here next.


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